Thursday, January 21, 2010

Benvenuti a Bologna

Let's skip the apologies and get right down to it, ok? I know it's been almost a month since my last entry, but I'm a busy dude and that's just the way it is.

Exactly two weeks ago I discovered that Germany from 10000 feet is black, white, and dormant-tree brown, but mostly white. Peering out my window, I was puzzled for a minute as to why the city planners had decided to bleach all of Frankfurt's roofs. I mean, it was definitely a cool effect, don't get me wrong, but I thought it would be hard to maintain. Then I realized that the city was covered in snow. "Good thing I'm headed straight to Italy," I said to myself, "where it's beautiful year-round like California."

Haha, wishful thinking. I started seeing my breath the moment the train doors opened at the Bologna Central stop. Since then, I've come to assume that the temperature will be hovering around 0° Celsius every time I step outside, and unfortunately I'm usually right. But don't think I'm complaining. I should have been an icicle in Cambridge for the last three months, and instead I was catching rays on Copacabana Beach. I'm grateful for a good shiver after six months in paradise, really.

I've done waaay too much these past two weeks to recount everything in detail, but I'll do my best to provide a compelling overview. Brown University placed me in a gorgeous sixth-floor apartment one block from the train station, which I'm sharing with two other American guys and one lovely Italiana. My room is easily 2.5 times the size of my bedroom at home, with an entire wall of cabinets in which I have nothing to store, an entire wall of French doors that lead out to a terrace on which it's too cold to relax, and a king-size bed of which I take up roughly one-third when I'm sleeping. Okay, the bed's not actually king-size, but rather a charming set of Siamese-twin beds. I put sheets on one of them, and the other mattress just sits there, waiting to accommodate any of the overnight guests that we're not allowed to host. We have two fridges, a washing machine, two bathrooms, a dishwasher, two couches, two dining tables, and two balconies facing different directions. If there were a theme to our apartment, it would be "unnecessary extravagance." But once again, I'm not complaining.

One of the coolest things about this semester in Italy is that my best friend Martín is also here with me. We met up for a delicious dinner at a cozy trattoria the night I arrived, and since then we've been able to hang out on a bunch of different occasions. He's already introduced me to a number of his friends from last semester, all of whom are better at Italian than I am. Fortunately for me though, that is slowly changing as a result of the countless hours of intensive Italian language and history courses I've already attended since arriving in Bologna. Six days per week until early February the Brown program controls the schedules of all of its participants, mine included. We have 18 hours of class each week, with daytrips on the weekends and meetings whenever the directors feel like it, which is pretty darn often. Luckily this kind of mutual suffering quickly created an enormous sense of solidarity among all of us students, so after thirteen days we're already starting to feel like a family. We've been getting together in groups of seven or eight to cook dinner and watch movies, we go shopping and exploring, we even took over an entire club last Saturday night to bust some moves.

If you're at all worried about me not having enough fun here in Italy, you needn't be. I'm still loving life. It's surely a drastically different lifestyle than the one I was living in Brazil, but it's equally amazing. I can't wait to start picking my classes and planning my Eurotrips, but for now I need to buckle down and figure out what the heck I'm doing this summer. Supposedly the summer after junior year is THE summer for big-time internships, so I too be doing my utmost to get me a half-decent one. I've written to a couple travel magazines and have received a few positive responses, which is nice. I have to start applying for funding asap because deadlines are coming up in early February. Anyway, I'll definitely keep you all posted on that stuff in the coming weeks.

This Saturday we have a program excursion to Verona, the setting of the story of Romeo and Juliet. "Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona, where we lay our scene..." Cross your fingers that I find my better half. Or don't, if you think she might be you. I'll write again soon, I promise.

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